WBEZ | collective bargaining http://www.wbez.org/tags/collective-bargaining Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en UIC faculty claim higher cause http://www.wbez.org/news/uic-faculty-claim-higher-cause-109732 <p><p>As University of Illinois at Chicago faculty members went on strike this week for the first time in school history, English Professor Walter Benn Michaels took a break from picketing to give a reporter a lesson about the academic pecking order.</p><p>Looking up at the school&rsquo;s tallest building &mdash; the 28-story University Hall &mdash; Michaels pointed out that the top floors are for UIC&rsquo;s senior administration. &ldquo;You got people up there making a lot of money,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />The building&rsquo;s other floors are for various academic departments, including English, headed by Michaels, whose office is on the 20th. Among the tenured and tenure-track faculty, he said, &ldquo;there are some people like me who are well-paid.&rdquo;<br /><br />But go down one floor to the 19th and &ldquo;you have the exact opposite,&rdquo; Michaels said. &ldquo;You have the non-tenure-track English professors who are making mainly $30,000 a year. A few lucky ones &mdash; some of them have been here 15-20 years &mdash; are making $35,000.&rdquo;<br /><br />Most of these employees, Michaels pointed out, have doctoral degrees and teach full-time for UIC.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MichaelsSCALED.jpg" style="height: 417px; width: 300px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Walter Benn Michaels, a professor who heads the University of Illinois at Chicago’s English Department, works on the 20th floor of University Hall. He says he’s backing the strike to stand up for students and his department’s lowest-paid instructors, who work on the 19th floor. WBEZ/Chip Mitchell" /></div><p>Eighteen months since the Illinois Federation of Teachers won certification to represent 1,100 of the school&rsquo;s faculty members, they are still trying to get their first collective-bargaining agreement.</p><p>Their dispute has become a flashpoint in a nationwide battle over the fate of higher education. On many campuses, that battle pits socially driven professors against market-oriented administrators and trustees or, as Michaels describes them, &ldquo;neoliberal&rdquo; forces.<br /><br />The main unresolved UIC bargaining issues concern faculty compensation. The school&rsquo;s administrators say they cannot give the union all it wants. Over four years, according to UIC, the faculty&rsquo;s demands would hike costs by 23 percent for tenure-system faculty and 27 percent for the rest.<br /><br />But faculty members say the two-day work stoppage, which ends Wednesday, is about more than their pocketbooks. They say it is about their students.</p><p>&ldquo;We would like, for example, to have all the English majors to do senior theses,&rdquo; Michaels told me. &ldquo;But, when you have a tenure-track department faculty of 33 people, you can&rsquo;t be having hundreds of English majors doing senior theses.&rdquo;</p><p>The only way to properly advise all these students, Michaels said, would be to deploy the department&rsquo;s non-tenure-track faculty &mdash; the folks who get $30,000 or $35,000 a year.<br /><br />&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t turn to these people and say, &lsquo;I want to add some additional work, which is hard work and which requires a lot of personal hours with students,&rsquo; &rdquo; Michaels said. &ldquo;How can I ask them to do that when I can offer them nothing? I can&rsquo;t offer them a promotion. I can&rsquo;t offer them a better wage.&rdquo;<br /><br />Professors in fields ranging from art history to philosophy also claim that it has become harder to get approval for courses that may not attract hoards of students.<br /><br />When it comes to colleges and universities struggling to do right by their students, UIC is less the exception than the rule, according to Gary Rhoades, director of the University of Arizona&rsquo;s Center for the Study of Higher Education.<br /><br />At many schools, Rhoades said, professors are resisting &ldquo;administrative desires to narrow the range of fields in which education is provided, to concentrate resources on a few areas that [management] thinks are going to pay off &mdash; either in terms of bringing in research moneys [or] cutting off areas that are not seen to be so valuable in the marketplace for the student.&rdquo;<br /><br />The academic areas deemed valuable, Rhoades explained, are those that help students get jobs as soon as they graduate.<br /><br />Michael Poliakoff, vice president of policy at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, suggested that UIC emulate &ldquo;smart&rdquo; universities and colleges that have formed consortia and transitioned to interactive video. He said there may not be any other affordable way to provide low-enrollment programs ranging from classics to foreign languages.<br /><br />Poliakoff also echoed Harvard Business School management guru Clayton Christensen, who says on-the-job training is pushing aside the traditional U.S. higher-education model. &ldquo;Fifteen years from now, half of the colleges and universities in this nation are going to be in bankruptcy,&rdquo; Poliakoff warned.<br /><br />&ldquo;Universities can&rsquo;t be everything to everybody,&rdquo; Poliakoff said. &ldquo;If they try to do that &mdash; especially if you have faculty collective-bargaining agreements attempting to protect programs even when they&rsquo;re not financially viable &mdash; then the school is really headed for financial disaster.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It is the business of an institution to ensure that it is cost-effective,&rdquo; Poliakoff said.<br /><br />The UIC faculty members call their strike an effort to ward off that sort of thinking. They insist they are standing up for their students.<br /><br />&ldquo;When I teach American literature,&rdquo; Michaels said, &ldquo;they&rsquo;re going to learn something about the value of literature &mdash; something that they&rsquo;ll take with them all the way through their lives. That&rsquo;s important to us. That&rsquo;s part of what a university is.&rdquo;<br /><br />When the sides resume bargaining this Friday, they will have to decide whether that value is something the school can still afford.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 19 Feb 2014 07:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/uic-faculty-claim-higher-cause-109732 Sister union’s vote could affect leverage of teachers http://www.wbez.org/news/sister-union%E2%80%99s-vote-could-affect-leverage-teachers-99962 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Local73.JPG" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 276px; height: 480px; " title="SEIU members march with the Chicago Teachers Union in a 2011 downtown protest to support public education. (Photo courtesy of Local 73)" /></div><p>As the Chicago Teachers Union tallies <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/ctu-president-karen-lewis-talks-strike-authorization-vote-99844">a vote</a> that could lead to a strike, some balloting Saturday by the school district&rsquo;s second-largest union could affect the teachers&rsquo; bargaining strength.</p><p>Service Employees International Union Local 73 is holding a ratification vote on a tentative contract covering 5,500 Chicago Public Schools employees ranging from bus aides and special-education assistants to custodians and child-welfare attendants.</p><p>Local 73 Vice President Taalib-Din Ziyad and other union leaders are urging members to approve the deal because the district has privatized a lot of the work once done by the union&rsquo;s members.</p><p>&ldquo;We were able to save those jobs that were threatened as well as get language that there would be no further contracting out of any of our jobs,&rdquo; Ziyad said.</p><p>Local 73 and CPS said they would not release a copy of the agreement until after the ratification vote. Union leaders say the deal covers three years and sets up 2 percent annual raises.</p><p>The tentative pact follows a CPS contract settlement with Unite Here Local 1 announced last month. That agreement, a five-year deal, covers about 3,200 lunchroom workers and limits the district&rsquo;s switch to &ldquo;warming kitchens&rdquo; in which private venders provide preprepared food.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not clear whether the two settlements leave the CTU&rsquo;s 25,000 members out on a limb or increase their leverage. The teachers are finishing a vote on whether to authorize union leaders to call a strike. That vote, which began Wednesday, comes amid tough contract talks involving everything from pay to the school-day length.</p><p>Orlando Sepúlveda, a Local 73 member campaigning against ratification, calls the tentative agreement &ldquo;a hollow victory&rdquo; and says his union could have done better by waiting for the teachers to get a deal.</p><p>&ldquo;The defense of public education &mdash; meaning not only halting privatization, but also the improvement of all its constituent elements &mdash; will require the unity of all the community that it serves and all the workers involved in it,&rdquo; Sepúlveda wrote in a Web commentary.</p><p>The settlements could affect the CTU&rsquo;s negotiations, according to leaders of that union.</p><p>&ldquo;The members of both Unite Here and SEIU are hourly workers so they&rsquo;re not a good precedent for salaried teachers,&rdquo; CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. &ldquo;But one thing that could set a precedent for us is the job-security language that those unions won.&rdquo;</p><p>The CTU has lost thousands of members in recent years, partly as a result of the district&rsquo;s approval of nonunion charter schools.</p></p> Fri, 08 Jun 2012 19:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sister-union%E2%80%99s-vote-could-affect-leverage-teachers-99962 Loretto Hospital registered nurses vote to unionize http://www.wbez.org/news/loretto-hospital-registered-nurses-vote-unionize-99670 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LorettoHospital2.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 248px; height: 328px;" title="The balloting enables the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to negotiate for 144 RNs at the hospital’s main facility, 645 S. Central Ave. (Flickr/Zol87)" /></div><p><em>Updated June 6, 2012, to include hospital management comments.</em></p><p>A union that has been trying for a decade to gain a foothold among hospital nurses in Chicago has won an election to represent 144 of them in the Austin neighborhood.<br /><br />Registered nurses at Loretto Hospital voted 80-37 to bring in Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The two-day vote, which ended Saturday, allows AFSCME to negotiate the pay, benefits and work conditions of RNs at the hospital&rsquo;s main facility, 645 S. Central Ave.<br /><br />&ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t have happy nurses, you don&rsquo;t have happy patients,&rdquo; said Kora Fields, an RN in the hospital&rsquo;s behavioral health unit who says she voted for the union.<br /><br />&ldquo;I live in the Austin area,&rdquo; Fields said. &ldquo;I grew up in the Austin area. My family comes to this hospital. My friends are treated here. I do love Loretto Hospital. But there needs to be increases in wages and we need to be respected as the professionals that we are.&rdquo;<br /><br />An AFSCME statement says pro-union nurses defied an &ldquo;aggressive anti-union campaign&rdquo; by Loretto management. The statement praises the nurses for their &ldquo;unwavering determination to improve patient care and ensure fair treatment on the job.&rdquo;<br /><br />Loretto spokesman Jim Waller called the hospital&rsquo;s nurse wages &ldquo;competitive for the marketplace&rdquo; and denied that management campaigned against AFSCME. &ldquo;We were just being clear what being in a union is and that what&rsquo;s paramount to us is patient safety,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Loretto, a 187-bed nonprofit facility, has helped lead an effort this year to exempt Illinois safety-net hospitals from proposed state Medicaid payment cuts.<br /><br />The vote, supervised by the National Labor Relations Board, makes Loretto the second Chicago hospital whose registered nurses have unionized this year. In January, National Nurses United won an election to represent 150 at the South Side&rsquo;s Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center.<br /><br />Until the Jackson Park election, unions had made little progress in Chicago-area hospitals except those owned by university and government entities.</p><p>The Loretto vote marks a rebound for AFSCME, which lost a bruising election battle last summer at the Northwest Side&rsquo;s Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center. RNs at that hospital voted against AFSCME after more than eight years of campaigning by the union.</p></p> Wed, 30 May 2012 16:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/loretto-hospital-registered-nurses-vote-unionize-99670 Navistar layoffs add to doubts about incentives http://www.wbez.org/content/navistar-layoffs-add-doubts-about-incentives <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-23/AP05060901633.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="The workers helped design International brand trucks. (AP/File)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-23/Navistar_truck_SCALED.jpg" style="margin: 9px 18px 5px 1px; float: left; width: 308px; height: 207px;" title="The workers helped design International brand trucks. (AP/File)">Sears Holdings Corp. and Chicago’s financial exchanges have quit threatening to pull up stakes now that Illinois has enacted tax breaks for them. But it remains unclear whether state incentives to big companies are wise uses of economic-development resources. A personnel shift by Lisle-based Navistar International Corp. will add fresh doubt.</p><p>WBEZ has learned that some new jobs Navistar promised under an Illinois incentive agreement are coming to the state at the expense of unionized workers in Indiana.</p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced the Navistar incentives last year after the company threatened to pack up its headquarters in west suburban Warrenville and leave the state. The deal committed Illinois to a $64.7 million bundle of tax credits and job-training subsidies for the company. It committed Navistar to moving the headquarters to Lisle, a couple miles east, and to adding 400 full-time Illinois employees.</p><p>Navistar’s first report to the state about the jobs isn’t due until next year, so it’s hard to tell how many positions the company has created thus far. Employees confirm that dozens of new engineers and designers are working at the Lisle facility.</p><p>Navistar is creating those jobs as it phases out its Truck Development and Technology Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, just three hours southeast of Chicago. The latest Fort Wayne cuts came December 2, when the company laid off 130 employees, mostly engineers and designers who are United Auto Workers members. Before the layoff, some of the Fort Wayne workers had to help train their Lisle replacements.</p><p>Navistar has “rewritten the job descriptions so the people that used to do the work here — the union folks — don’t qualify anymore on paper,” said Craig Randolph, a design engineer the company laid off after 15 years at the Fort Wayne center. “So they’re eliminating the high-seniority, older employees like myself and replacing them with nonunion college kids — guys fresh out of school. And the taxpayers in Illinois are subsidizing the whole thing.”</p><p>Asked for a response, Navistar spokeswoman Karen Denning called it unusual for engineers to have union representation in the first place, a claim disputed by auto industry experts. Denning also sent a statement that said the company’s decision to shift the Fort Wayne jobs to Lisle was “based solely on our desire to compete in the global economy.” The statement added that Navistar has allowed many Fort Wayne employees to relocate to the Chicago area and stay with the company.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity sent a statement that doesn’t directly address whether the Navistar incentives have anything to do with the Fort Wayne layoffs. The statement says the state’s assistance to companies like Navistar over the last decade has “created and retained tens of thousands of jobs,” including unionized positions.</p><p>There’s not much proof to back up such claims. Scholars who study the effects of corporate incentives point out that companies decide where to operate based on proximity to suppliers, markets, transportation and so on. Another factor is whether workers are bargaining collectively. Just this summer, Navistar announced it was closing a unionized plant in Chatham, Ontario. The company has moved that work to nonunion facilities in Texas and Mexico.</p><p>“I don’t think that the [Illinois] incentives are causing Navistar to shift around its workforce,” said Rachel Weber, an associate professor of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “But they do send a message that the public sector and taxpayers are validating these kinds of activities. And, if you asked a lot of taxpayers in the state of Illinois whether they’d want to support these kinds of activities, I don’t think they’d be so happy about it.”</p><p>Weber pointed out that the economies of Illinois and Indiana intertwine closely and said it would help both states to quit poaching jobs from each other. Eliminating state incentives for corporations, she added, would free up resources for everything from workforce readiness to small-business incubation.</p><p>The union, for its part, didn’t return calls about the Fort Wayne layoffs and isn’t creating a public fuss about them. That raises questions about the role of UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams, who serves on Navistar’s board of directors under a decades-old agreement that reserved the seat for the union. Because Williams draws salaries from both the UAW and Navistar, and because he once directed a UAW region that includes Illinois but not Indiana, some of the union’s Fort Wayne members accuse him of hanging them out to dry.</p></p> Fri, 23 Dec 2011 16:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/navistar-layoffs-add-doubts-about-incentives ‘Ground Shifters’: ‘Girls Gauntlets’ – children unionizing in Bolivia http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-16/%E2%80%98ground-shifters%E2%80%99-%E2%80%98girls-gauntlets%E2%80%99-%E2%80%93-children-unionizing-bolivia-92051 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-15/girls.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>This week, Jean Friedman-Rudovsky presents a five-part series featuring stories of women and girls in Bolivia and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. It’s called <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ground-shifters-stories-women-changing-unseen-worlds" target="_blank">Ground Shifters: Stories of Women Changing Unseen Worlds</a>.</em></p><p><em>We've all heard tales about child labor – the suffering, gross injustice and heartache. Today, we conclude our series with an unusual child labor story. </em></p><p><em>In “Girls Gauntlets,” we meet Ana, Brigida and Noemí, a group of young girls in La Paz, Bolivia who work — and are proud of it. </em></p><p><em>In fact, they’re so proud that they have unionized, along with more than a hundred thousand child workers across Latin America, to demand respect and legal protection, reports</em> <em>Jean Friedman-Rudovsky.</em></p><p>****************</p><p>When I first came to Bolivia, it didn’t take long to notice an active 5 foot-and-under world. Kids — everywhere — working. In the countryside, they dot expansive fields, chopping sugar cane for the harvest. In the cities, they offer to shine my shoes and hang out the open doors of buses, encouraging passengers aboard.</p><p>I had a knee jerk reaction: child labor—ugh—it hurts to bear witness.</p><p>But what I didn’t realize is that what I saw, and what I’ve always learned, was not the whole story.</p><p>On a recent Saturday morning, 16 year-old Ana Guadalupe Perez Rosas was washing dishes. She's a domestic worker, with a system: first the glasses, then plates, then cutlery and finally pots. That way, she explains, pot grease doesn’t dirty the rest.</p><p>Bolivia has 9 million inhabitants; one million are child workers, some who started working as early as seven.&nbsp; Of these, almost half are girls. The girls, like their jobs, are often hidden, inside homes or in the backs of restaurants.</p><p>Ana started working as a domestic worker when she was 14, but her first job, as a kitchen assistant, was when she was 12.&nbsp; One day, her mother, who is a also domestic worker, had an accident and Ana offered to stand in for her. She's been doing the job ever since..</p><p>Ana works two mornings a week with the same family, and then takes other jobs on the side when she can. She says her pay helps her buy food for her family and sometimes her salary goes to the electricity or water bills.</p><p>It also buys her own school supplies. Ana can spend 30 hours a week working, but like the vast majority of child workers in Bolivia, she also attends school.</p><p>With her gentle demeanor and dish-pan hands, 16 year old Ana is an outlaw. It doesn’t matter that she’s never harmed anyone, or that she is an “A” student. As a child laborer, she is told by Bolivian law and our society that something is wrong with her. Childhood ought to be for play and learning, we say, not for cleaning other peoples’ homes.</p><p>But this girl, and more than 100,000 youngsters throughout Latin America, are fed up with feeling like they are a plague that ought to be eradicated. They’ve gotten together to challenge one of the modern era’s most fundamental foundations: that child labor is wrong.</p><p>"I belong to the organization, La Paz TAYPINATS which means Child and Adolescent Worker’s Gathering Place," Ana says. "We are an organization of boy and girl child and adolescent workers—shoe shiners, street sellers, domestic workers, construction workers, many different sectors. Above all, we ask the government for protection as workers and that we be treated respectfully by society. Because, the majority of the time we are oppressed. They think that it’s not right for us to work, that at our childhood we should be for playing and learning. But they don’t want to recognize the reality in Bolivia. The majority of us kids work because our family needs something from us, like helping to put food on the table or to support younger siblings."</p><p><strong>Girl Power</strong></p><p>Ana is very modest. She’s more than a member — she’s the President of the La Paz chapter of the national child worker union, UNATSBO. Across the country, about 15,000 unionized boy and girl child and adolescent workers speak with one voice. They range in age from 8 to 18.</p><p>As I travel the country and learn about this growing movement, my head spins. My preconceived notions of child labor go out the window. These kids combine work and school. Education is a union requirement. They aren’t slaving away in factories either. Most work on their own schedules. And they hate the pity we throw at them. Rather, they are proud as workers, and they organize for their rights. Strong child worker unions now stretch from Paraguay to Peru, from Venezuela to Ecuador.</p><p>Their primary goal is political. Like undocumented immigrants in the United States, child workers exist in a void. The kids want protections, but it’s a battle. Governments in the developing world promised the International Labour Organization, the United Nations and other world bodies&nbsp; outlaw child labor. They say that they can’t offer these young people workers rights, because legislating the sector would mean condoning the practice.</p><p>Thus, kids remain society’s most vulnerable workforce. They’re paid less than adults for performing the same work. Those who work on the street—shining shoes or selling in markets—are frequently robbed or beaten up for their meager earnings. Kids are not entitled to breaks or overtime and have no recourse from employer abuse because, hey—they shouldn’t be working in the first place.</p><p>And on top of all of that — within this already discriminated workforce, girls suffer yet again, Ana reminds me as she finishes off the dishes.</p><p>"In any job, there is always more danger for girls than for boys," she says. "I think that in part it’s because it’s hard for us girls to speak up. We don’t say what goes on. In offices, bosses harass or assault a woman worker, or this happens in houses with domestic workers too. Women are always going to be more at risk."</p><p>Abandoned by the government — abused by their bosses, these girls have learned to fend—and organize—for themselves.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Adult lives, childhood dreams</strong></p><p>Perched on a ladder in the central cemetery of the 14,000 ft. high city of Potosí, Bolivia, 17 year old Brígida Espinoza cleans the small face of a mausoleum.</p><p>Brígida, along with 9 other kids, are the cemetery’s caretakers. They dig and look after graves, and clean mausoleums for hire. Brígida has worked here for a year. Her first job doing neighbor’s laundry was when she was 11.&nbsp;</p><p>"I shine the name and get rid of the dust," says Brígida as she scrubs hard. "If the family asks for it, I clean the glass too."</p><p>Brigida normally earns between $1.50 and $2 per cleaning. At the cemetery’s entrance, I noticed that the prices are painted on a wall. Brigida tells me that’s the union’s doing.</p><p>"People would ask for a cleaning and then not want to pay because we are kids," Brígida said. "So we said, there should be a sign at the entrance that lists our prices. We use this to defend ourselves, so that people pay us what we are owed."</p><p>Brígida is a kind of single mom. She has no kids but is the only breadwinner for her two younger siblings, who are 14 and 11.</p><p>"The day we buried my mom, I was ten," Brígida says. "I work to be able to provide for my brother and sister. It’s been this way since my dad remarried and no longer gave us money."</p><p>The three of them live on their own, in a one room apartment. Her older brother Jonny used to support the family, but he passed away earlier this year. Now, the weight falls on Brígida. Yet despite this burden, she finds the time to be a union leader.</p><p>"There’s a council of elected representatives for each sector," she says. "I and two others, represent the cemetery, and we attend Saturday and Tuesday city-wide meetings."</p><p>Brigida invites me to her next meeting. In a ramshackle office in a drafty building in Potosi, the pre-teens and teens laugh and tease each other. I’m reminded they are still kids. But, Brigida says, this is not child’s play.</p><p>"We have regulations that we comply with, whether we want to or not," she says. "For example, when we have a meeting, you have to pay a fine of 15 cents for every minute you are late after the first five minutes. If you miss a meeting then half of what you earn on your next work day goes to the union. Same thing, if you miss a workshop, then we decide as a group what the penalty will be."</p><p>Girls like Brígida lead this national movement. There are hundreds of local female leaders like them. And seven out of the 9 nine current regional chapters Presidents of the national child worker union are young women.</p><p>Noemi Guiterrez is one of them. Poised, focused, and a little shy, Noemí is the coordinator for CONNATSOP, the Potosi Council of Organized Child Workers. She started working in a call center when she was 12 years old.</p><p>Now, at 17, Noemi manages an internet café.&nbsp;</p><p>During a union meeting she led on a recent night, the group discussed the status of negotiations with the government regarding new laws on children in the workplace. After the meeting, Noemi and I chat, and she explains what should have been painfully obvious to me.</p><p>"Everyone says that kids shouldn’t work, but they are not taking into account the economic reality in this country," Noemi said. "Sure, if we were all well off, none of us would have to work. But rather than thinking rationally, the government only says we need to eradicate child labor. I say, they ought to eradicate poverty first."</p><p>Of course. Again, billions of dollars spent to address symptoms of global inequality, rather than focusing on a cure to the root problem. Worse, we criminalize the young whose response to their difficult lives is trying to help their families. Amazingly, these children have taken our lemon—and made their own lemonade.</p><p>"For me working at this age isn’t a sacrifice or an obligation," says Ana. "It’s more like a good way to pass time when I forget my other problems. Other child workers feel the same way, they look forward to going out into the streets to sell, to meet new people. These kids develop their language skills and they become like little economists because they learn how to manage their money."</p><p>It is so complex. No, Ana is not a character in a Dickens novel. And the union believes there is a need for some anti-child labor laws. Any work that is inherently unsafe for children, like being inside a mine, must be illegal for the young.</p><p>But where do we draw the line? Ana, Brigida and Noemi don’t want our sympathy. My heart drops thinking about Brigida digging graves on the weekend to support her younger siblings.</p><p>Perhaps that’s where the union makes a difference. Their demand for respect is not about glossing over their troubled lives. It’s about wanting to be seen as dignified members of society and wanting their due legal protections.</p><p>It’s a radical proposal, but I see that the process of constructing new societal possibilities, helps the kids grow; particularly the girls. Through organizing, being a young activist helped every one of these girls find their voice.</p><p>"I used to be very shy," Brigida recalls. "I didn’t know how to speak in front of others. My compañeros said to me: “You have to talk,” but I would just get more nervous. Now I’ve lost that shyness and so really, this being a representative from the cemetery sector has helped me a lot."</p><p>Ana too credits her strong character to being part of this movement.</p><p>"You could say that a significant part of who I am comes from being in this organization," she says. "I learned how to value what’ around me, how to respect others, trust in my compañeros, and always take into account everyone’s opinion and make sure everyone is heard. I’ve learned how to always keep moving forward even when there are obstacles in my way. I’ve learned to never give up what you are trying to achieve…The other girls in the organization are great leaders. Each one has a leader inside of her. We girls are always the most active. We are more interested in politics and are always at the head of the organization."</p><p>In Latin America, that young women take leadership roles in an organization where boys are also members, is extraordinary. These girls fought for those spaces. And through their leadership, the organization has reached new heights.</p><p>In 2008, these kids changed the country’s constitution. Following the election of Bolivian President Evo Morales, the country wrote a new “Magna Carta” and the original draft prohibited children from working. The kids marched, lobbied assembly members and convinced the adults to outlaw child exploitation, rather than all child labor. Now, the Union is facing a backlash, as the government tries to write new labor laws that curtail this constitutional advance. So the kids are gearing up for another battle.</p><p>Meanwhile, just doing their jobs, they say, helps them reach their dreams—literally. Because without their small salaries to pay for their own school supplies, few of these kids would still be getting an education.</p><p>In Ana's case, she wants to be a business administrator, or an economist. Brígida says she’d like to be a nurse. Noemí wants to be an architect - or a doctor.</p><p>I’m not sure they realize that they’ve already accomplished more than most of us do in a lifetime. Through their struggle, they challenge one of the western world’s most basic principles—that child labor is wrong. They demand we rethink our conceptions of what makes a just society. They are slowly but surely, shifting the ground beneath our feet.<br> &nbsp;</p><p><em>This series is part of an ongoing collaboration between WBEZ and the <a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Institute_for_the_Study_of_Women_and_Gender_in_the_Arts_and_Media/" target="_blank">Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women &amp; Gender in the Arts &amp; Media</a> at Columbia College-Chicago, called Gender, Human Rights, Leadership and Media. The Institute develops projects with journalists, artists, human rights workers and activists to investigate global issues.</em></p><p><em>You can hear all of the stories from this week, as well as the interview we did with Jean Friedman-Rudovsky to kick off the series, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ground-shifters-stories-women-changing-unseen-worlds" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 16 Sep 2011 13:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-16/%E2%80%98ground-shifters%E2%80%99-%E2%80%98girls-gauntlets%E2%80%99-%E2%80%93-children-unionizing-bolivia-92051 Bears hunt for free agents begins now that the NFL is unlocked http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-26/bears-hunt-free-agents-begins-now-nfl-unlocked-89646 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-26/Chicago Bears Training.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The gears finally changed for football fans--the National Football League owners and the Players Association <a href="http://The%20gears%20have%20finally%20changed%20for%20football%20fans.%20%20The%20NFL%20owners%20and%20the%20Players%20Association%20have%20signed-off%20on%20a%20collective%20bargaining%20agreement.%20%20And%20so%20ends%20the%20four-and-a-half%20month%20lockout%20that%20threatened%20the%20nation%E2%80%99s%20Sundays%20and%20beer%20sales.%20%20%20Now%20it%E2%80%99s%20time%20to%20sign%20some%20free%20agents%20and%20get%20to%20camp.%20%20But%20before%20the%20Bears%20spend%20all%20their%20dough,%20our%20regular%20sports%20enthusiast%20Cheryl%20Raye-Stout%20is%20here%20to%20survey%20the%20field." target="_blank">signed-off</a> on a collective bargaining agreement, ending the four-and-a-half month lockout that threatened the nation’s Sundays and beer sales. Now it’s time to sign some free agents and get to camp. But before <a href="http://www.chicagobears.com/" target="_blank">the Bears</a> spend all its dough, <em>Eight Forty-Eight's </em>regular sports enthusiast Cheryl Raye-Stout surveyed the field.</p></p> Tue, 26 Jul 2011 14:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-26/bears-hunt-free-agents-begins-now-nfl-unlocked-89646 Crosstown classic resumes but NBA fans may miss action because of lockout http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-01/crosstown-classic-resumes-nba-fans-may-miss-action-because-lockout-88619 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-01/BullsHeat_Getty_JonathanDaniel.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As NFL labor negotiations continue, sports fans ponder another lockout. The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement expired Thursday night. That means no contract negotiations, no trades and no basketball practice. Meanwhile, the NHL is trading – more of the Stanley Cup winning Blackhawks have left the Madhouse on Madison Ave.<br> <br> And the Cubs and the Sox meet Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field for part two of the annual Crosstown Classic. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>'s regular sports contributor <a href="http://www.wbez.org/contributor/cheryl-raye-stout" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye-Stout</a> had the latest on all the action.</p><p><em>Music Button: Maze X, “Realize” from the CD Late Night Jamming (Rest In Beatz)</em></p></p> Fri, 01 Jul 2011 13:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-01/crosstown-classic-resumes-nba-fans-may-miss-action-because-lockout-88619 New school board to mull teacher raises today http://www.wbez.org/story/new-school-board-mull-teacher-raises-today-87855 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-14/Katie Hogan1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago’s new Board of Education will convene for the first time Wednesday to address a hot topic: whether the district can afford $100 million in raises scheduled for unionized employees.</p><p>Less than four years ago, it was Chicago Public Schools that pushed the Chicago Teachers Union for an agreement that locked teachers into 4 percent raises each year until 2012. Now that the economy has soured and federal stimulus dollars have run out, the district says it will be $720 million in the hole next year. That’s despite about $75 million in planned cuts from the school district’s central-office budget.</p><p>Some teachers see more to trim there.</p><p>“There are still large numbers of very well-paid bureaucrats,” says Debby Pope, a history and psychology teacher at Gage Park High School. “There are still all kinds of incredible waste. Why don’t they put the money into the classrooms and the teachers? That’s when we’ll see school improvement.”</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration has not explained how it came up with the deficit figure, prompting teachers to call for the district to open its books before asking unions for any concession. This is the second year in a row the board has held an emergency meeting to consider whether it can afford the raises. Last year the district went ahead with the hikes, but then laid off 1,050 teachers and 200 coaches.</p><p>If the board decides it can not afford the teacher raises, the district and union will have a chance to negotiate a new salary schedule. If those talks fail, the union could open the entire contract, leaving the district vulnerable to a strike.</p><p>If the board approves the raises, it will be the eighth consecutive year Chicago teachers get a 4 percent pay bump. On top of that, teachers get raises as they gain years of experience and earn additional degrees.</p></p> Wed, 15 Jun 2011 23:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-school-board-mull-teacher-raises-today-87855 Hoosier lawmakers restrict collective bargaining for teachers; vouchers next http://www.wbez.org/story/hoosier-lawmakers-restrict-collective-bargaining-teachers-vouchers-next-85521 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-22/Classroom Teacher_Getty_Sean Gallup.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana Republicans have made two big gains in education policy. On Thursday a majority of the Indiana Senate approved what could become one of the most expansive school voucher programs in the nation. That comes just a day after the governor signed a new law that restricts collective bargaining for public school teachers.</p><p>Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels visited Valparaiso Thursday to tout the momentum he and the Republican-controlled legislature have seen for their education agenda.</p><p>Speaking on the collective bargaining issue, Daniels, a Republican, deflected criticism of being anti-union. He said, under the new legislation, teachers still have the right to bargain over salaries and benefits; they are only losing out on bargaining over things that have nothing to do with educating children. He cited things such as the color of paint inside teachers’ lounges or the temperature inside of a school.</p><p>"This is the year we really transform Indiana for the better. I’m really very grateful for what the General Assembly has agreed to help us do," Daniels said before the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce at Strongbow Inn. "Now, we have to go and make that system work."</p><p>The restrictions on teachers’ collective bargaining take effect July 1.</p><p>Republican lawmakers are expected to enact more changes in education before the end of the legislation session, which ends next week. Several include changes Daniels laid out in his State of the State address in January.</p><p>Next on the list is the school voucher expansion, which the Senate approved Thursday. It could be taken up again by the Indiana House next week. The measure would allow some parents to use public money to send their children to a private school.</p><p>"Choice will no longer be limited to the well-to-do in our state. If you’re a moderate or low income family and you’ve tried the public schools for at least a year and you can’t find one that works for your child, you can direct the dollars we were going to spend on your child to the non-government school of your choice,” Daniels said during his visit to Valparaiso. “That’s a social justice issue to me."</p><p>Opponents worry vouchers would siphon money from public schools. The voucher issue is contentious; so much so that House Democrats referenced it when they bolted from the statehouse last month.</p><p>Another item in Daniels school overhaul initiative would impose a merit pay system on teachers. If it passes, the provision would tie raises in teacher salary to annual evaluations. Unions say that system could short-change teachers who work with students who are tough to teach.</p></p> Fri, 22 Apr 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/hoosier-lawmakers-restrict-collective-bargaining-teachers-vouchers-next-85521 A crash course on collective bargaining http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-21/crash-course-collective-bargaining-84015 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-21/Collective bargaining Rochelle Hartford.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It might appear that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and football star Tom Brady have nothing in common. But maybe they do. Both were party to collective bargaining agreements they moved to end. In theory, they were setting out to negotiate themselves a more favorable deal.<br /><br />The concept of collective bargaining is getting a lot of buzz. But how well do we understand how it functions? And does it work the same for state employees and NFL players?<br /><br />To find out, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> was joined by <a href="https://its.law.nyu.edu/facultyprofiles/profile.cfm?personID=26355" target="_blank">Richard Epstein</a>, the Peter and Kristen Bedford Senior Fellow at the <a href="http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/libertarian-archives" target="_blank">Hoover Institution</a>. He is also the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at New York University.</p></p> Mon, 21 Mar 2011 12:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-21/crash-course-collective-bargaining-84015